Trogon Trip: Madera Canyon

March 26, 2019 3 By Audrey

Madera Canyon is one of the prettiest places I’ve been to. Maybe because it was spring and the sun was shining but temperatures were still cool and comfortable. And Madera Creek was running high thanks to the recent snow in the Santa Rita Mountains. Our search began at the Proctor Road Nature Trail.

We had a big mission: find an Elegant Trogon. It wasn’t going to be easy. We looked at the last place it was seen with no luck. Our instincts then led us to a Pyracantha bush near Whitehouse Picnic Area another place it frequented but there were no signs of a trogon here either. The “bush of despair” let us down, because later we learned the trogon was back at the original spot before it “flew far away downstream” to an inaccessible part of the canyon. Unbelievably we’d missed the bird by ten minutes. A trogon tragedy.

Thankfully, there were many other birds to look at. And some of them life birds. Santa Rita Lodge located in the canyon has cabins, a gift shop, and bird feeder stations set up outside. Whenever we needed a recharge we’d sit here and everything would be better.

See the turkeys?

How can you be disappointed when there’s two lifer hummingbirds buzzing around?

Rivoli’s Hummingbirds (formerly called Magnificent) are huge (relatively).

They’re over an inch longer (5″) than Anna’s Hummingbirds (3.8″) and the other lifer hummingbird seen here, Broad-billed Hummingbird (3.8″).

Foraging on the ground below were all the juncos. And by “all” I mean three subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco.

And my most anticipated new junco, a species all of its own, Yellow-eyed Junco!

I was really excited to see these guys and they did not disappoint. The best crazy-eyes.

Another fun new bird here was Bridled Titmouse! Their crest defies all logic.

In the treetops shier birds like the Arizona Woodpecker would sneak in for a snack.

And another time a brilliantly colored Hepatic Tanager paid a visit!

Hepatic” means liver-colored, in this case brownish-red. Gross but true. If these birds weren’t enough there were White-breasted Nuthatch, Acorn Woodpeckers, and another noisy life bird, Mexican Jay.

They reminded us of Pinyon Jays in eastern Oregon.

Tienes un cacahuete?

After we checked for and missed the trogon a few more times we left for a break to look for a reported Rufous-capped Warbler along the Florida Trail (pronounced “Flo-ree’-da,” the Spanish word for flowered). This involved a gorgeous desert hike.

With several (tenuous) stream crossings.

You got this

The best part about this hike was not the warblers we couldn’t find, but a quick distant look at a lifer Painted Redstart! The views were so far, so here’s a another from the Santa Rita feeders that we saw later. So pretty.

Especially when you can see their red tummy.

By now you’re wondering where the heck is the trogon on this trip? So were we.

I can’t believe this is a real thing. “Almost!”

We’d had an entire birding day and hadn’t found it. Before the trip, we said we’d look for it every day if we had to, but then the reality of that statement sunk in. Would we forgo all other plans for one bird? Yes. No. Maybe.

Thankfully there was pizza and beer at Velvet Elvis Pizza in Patagonia where we could distract ourselves and celebrate all the birds we’d seen so far.

Tweets and chirps,